Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is The Walkman Really Dead Or Not?

I read with interest several reports (eg ABC News) that Sony have announced that they are to discontinue the Walkman Cassette Player. This was an iconic and revolutionary device that literally gave us music on the move in ways that we never experienced before. There were many imitators, and no doubt battery sales also  ballooned when it was released.

My Collection of Cassettes.
In the late 70's and early 80's the LP and cassette were kings. Most of the music I listened to was copied from LPs onto cassette. Though I did buy the several cassettes (Hotel California was the first) - many were BASF 60 or 90 minute tapes copied by friends. I still have many today. I took the photo to the right with my iPhone (click to enlarge) of my remaining cassette tapes from the 80's - they all work still and I have one radio/cassette player that stills works. The cassettes range from the cool U2, Joe Jackson, and Donald Fagan, to the decidedly uncool Bagatelle and Madonna! I have also learned how to transfer recordings from a cassette player onto MP3 format on a computer. There are still some gems in my cassette collection that I do not have in my iPod, eg: China Crisis, Carole King, and Bonnie Raitt.

But is the Walkman dead? The Consumerist asks: Is The Walkman Really Dead Or Not? It reports that it is just in Japan that Sony are ceasing to produce Walkman cassette players, and write that Sony "is continuing to produce the portable tape players in China for sale in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere". Seems the Internet is buzzing with a "nearly story"?

The 1979 Original
Sony Walkman.
Roma gave me a Phillips Portable Cassette Player for a birthday/Christmas present - I'd say in the mid 1980's.  I searched Google Images for a photo - but no luck. All I found was a photo of the original Sony Walkman from 1979 which was a very desirable gadget to have in a generation where gadgets had yet really to catch on. In 1979 there were no mobile phones, no satellite TV, no desktop or laptop computers, no Internet, and in our house there was just one TV with only two stations (RTÉ 2 has just started broadcasting in November 1978). But I felt very cool with my Walkman - it was the first gadget I had ever owned. I'm sure I'd get a good price for it on eBay if I still had it! Nostalgia ain't everything, but do you remember the slooooowwwwwwed dooooowwwwwwnnnnnn sooooooouuuuuunnnnnnd when the batteries started to run out? Today's gadgets just cut out - it ain't the same!

No doubt there will be news reports in years to come that Smartphones, MP3 players, and Sat Navs are to be discontinued. I just hope I'm around long enough to see what they are replaced by. You see - 25 years after my first gadget I still get that wide-eyed feeling in the presence of a new gadget. Ooooh - new toys to play with!

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